Politics

You caused this! EU chief launches furious attack over Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal

Brexit: Lord Frost speaks of 'disappointment' with EU

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Financial Services Commissioner Mairead McGuinness said the British threat to trigger Article 16 was “not helpful” and the country should instead pursue solutions. Article 16 of the Northern Ireland Protocol allows either the UK or bloc to take unilateral action if there is an unexpected negative effect arising from the agreement.

 

The UK Government has threatened to trigger the clause as both sides struggle to find a solution to the implementation of the post-Brexit trading arrangements for Northern Ireland.

Brexit minister Lord Frost set out plans in a command paper in July which called for radical changes to the implementation of the Protocol.

He tweeted on Thursday it was “clearly having a continued negative effect on everyday life and business in Northern Ireland.”

But Ms McGuinness said today: “I don’t think that that is the first approach, we should try and find solutions.

“I think threats are not helpful and I think Article 16 is used in very extreme circumstances.”

The Irish politician stressed both European Union and UK Government needed to “trust each other” if a solution is to be found and claimed threats were “irresponsible.”

Ms McGuiness also made clear today the Protocol was not up for complete renegotiation but made clear the EU wanted to “solve problems for people in Northern Ireland”.

She continued: “We want the protocol to achieve its full ambition for Northern Ireland.

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“Total access, of course, to the UK market, but absolute free access to the European Union, which is an enormous market.”

The EU chief concluded: “Despite all our difficulties – and it hasn’t been easy since 2016 – we are duty-bound to work together, despite our differences, to find solutions rather than create problems.”

Eurocrats are due to set out a package of measures to try and solve the problems of the Northern Ireland Protocol in the next few weeks.

These are expected to include radical changes to the licensing and distribution of medicines in the region, which involve the bloc changing its own laws.

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Meanwhile, Jim Allister who is part of a legal challenge against the Protocol, said triggering Article 16 would only be a “temporary fix”.

There is significant anger among unionists and loyalists at the Protocol which was agreed by the UK and EU as a way to maintain a free-flowing land border on the island of Ireland after Brexit.

They regard the additional checks on goods arriving in the region from the rest of the UK as a border in the Irish Sea.

 

The MLA and Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV) leader told BBC Sunday Politics Northern Ireland: “At the end of it, are we still left in a foreign single market for goods, subject to a foreign customs code, overseen by a foreign laws that we don’t make and can’t change, and adjudicated upon by a foreign court?.

“If changes do not pass that test, then they go nowhere because they do not resolve the sovereignty issue.”

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